The Pfister Films: THE APPETIZERS

And so we come to the final film, a cheeky little ditty I like to call THE APPETIZERS.

I think it is fitting that THE APPETIZERS is the final film that I’m sharing with you all. It is in so many ways a celebration of the glamour, the sophistication, the romance, the surprise, and the charm that sparkles between so many people who end up falling in love at the Pfister.

THE APPETIZERS is also a tribute to one of my absolute favorite things about the Pfister. But telling you what that is now would be what the kids these days call a spoiler. You’ll just have to watch to find out what my great Pfister love really is.

And before I share this last film with you all, a word to you all about what this film project has meant to me, and perhaps what it can mean to you, dreamer, creator, human being.

Becoming the Pfister Narrator meant a lot of things to me as a writer. It filled me with pride and joy. I pinched myself almost daily, never really fully believing it was true that I was the in-house writer for a stunning historic hotel. I developed friendships that I will maintain and treasure for a lifetime, being afforded the chance to meet all sorts of fascinating characters from a wide variety of backgrounds. More than anything, however, becoming the Pfister Narrator reminded me that the best thing you can do to feel alive is to make things.

I’ve made a lot of things this year. I’ve strung together thousands of words and hopefully have helped readers understand that the Pfister is a truly unique place. Through it all, I was always encouraged to speak with my own voice, and take chances. Even with something as full of pitfalls as making four short films. I never professed to be a filmmaker when I came up with this idea, but I’ve always loved movies. And, for better or for worse, I thought, “What the hell!” As I come out on the other end of making these four short films, I understand that the great joy of the project was to get together a bunch of friends and make something that we all loved creating together and then share it with others. I hope you have felt a bit of the sense of play and wonder that we all had in creating these pieces, ones we finished and were bursting with excitement to share.

I encourage anyone reading or listening to these words to walk down a similar path. You don’t need to make a movie, but by all means, get your friends together, tell stories, have some laughs, and figure out the hard stuff you don’t know how to do along the way. If you’re shooting for perfection at the end of that road, I can tell you that you’re going to be disappointed. If you want to have an experience that you can cherish forever, I guarantee you’ll be paid in great memories over and over again.

I thank everyone who supported this film project for helping me indulge in a dream and open up a part of my creative soul that I hope I can build upon in the coming days, months and years. I’m not quite done with my writing as the Pfister Narrator as I’m taking full advantage of the fact that April has thirty days, but for now, I bring you the finale of my short film project, THE APPETIZERS.

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The Pfister Films: SOMETHING OLD

SOMETHING OLD is the title of today’s film, number three in my four-film mini-fest. I will explain how this film came to be in a short spell, but first I would like to lay out for you all the compelling reasons why the final cut of this film may result in the discovery of my cold and dead body floating face down in a swimming pool in a sort of noirish SUNSET BOULEVARD plot twist.

The process of getting to the cut of SOMETHING OLD you will see in a minute is a perfect example of a writer’s never ending quest to not put crummy writing out in the world. I love to write, but what I really, really love to do is rewrite. I love rewriting so much that I’m never afraid to “kill my darlings”, the process of editing away bits of prose that might seem really clever and brilliant on a first pass, but with distance and reflection seem to do disservice to a story. I have killed many darlings over the years, and in the case of SOMETHING OLD I took the unprecedented step of leaving my own sainted mother on the cutting room floor.

What I thought was my final version of the script for SOMETHING OLD included a final, brief scene between the main character, Pamela, and a sweet woman she runs into. I wrote the role of the sweet woman and realized as I read it over and over again that my very own mother would be perfect for the role. So, I texted mom (my mom is quite handy at sending texts) and asked her to act in my movie. Like a trooper, my Mom learned her lines overnight, showed up early for her scene, didn’t bump into any of the furniture, and really nailed the part.

I walked away from filming that scene with my mom and felt we had it in the bag. Then I sat down to edit the film and watched the scene a few times. I could sense something wasn’t right. My mom and Katherine Duffy, the talented young lady playing Pamela, did great work with what they were given in the scene. That is to say, they elevated the material. What is all the more admirable about that elevation is that they did it with a stinky part of the script. That’s right, I wrote a real dog of a scene, and I realized as I watched it repeatedly that it had to go.

So, I did what any malcontent writer does. I rewrote. And then I rewrote again. And finally I rewrote some more. And while I was doing all that tinkering my mother hopped on an airplane and flew to London. As mom was having tea with the royals, I was recasting her in this short film. There are about 59 layers of guilt built into my decision to recast my mother while she was far away on another continent, let me tell you.

But now the film seems right to me. The rewrite makes a lot of sense to the whole story arch. It’s quirky and goofy and tinged with melancholy. It’s exactly the feeling I had when I encountered the young woman in the lobby lounge who inspired the story behind SOMETHING OLD. I hope you enjoy giving this a view. It was a rare treat to make…expect that part about kicking my mom to the curb, of course.

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It’s a bittersweet week for me as I look at the calendar and realize that there are only thirty days in April. As I draw to the end of my year as Pfister Narrator, I find myself wishing that we would all discover that 2016 was some sort of triple secret leap year where the fourth month was extended to 187 days. Alas, I’m unable to find even the most open sourced of Wikipedia entries on Hurdle Year (catchy name, no?), so I’m resigned to the fact that my year is almost up.

At the onset of this great adventure I had outlined some plans for things I was going to do to leave my mark as the Pfister Narrator. One pursuit that excited and terrified me all at the same time was to write and produce four short films inspired by my experiences at the Pfister. I admit to everyone now that it was one of those things that sounded great when I said it out loud, but as I thought about how it would actually happen, I found myself saying, “Oh my goodness…what have I gotten myself into here?”

But here we are almost 365 days later, and I’m extraordinarily pleased to announce that I did what I said I would do and wrote, directed, edited and produced four short films. And you know what? This project was an absolute joy to tackle and stretched me in ways I never dreamed possible. Every day this week, I will share one of those films with you, and I hope you’ll then share them with others because I’m proud of them all and believe that they succeed in showing different bits of the magic that is the Pfister.

As with any pursuit such as this, there are so many people I need to thank for helping make the ideas that bounced around my head and ended up on paper come to bristling life. You’ll find all the names of the immensely talented actors and actresses who volunteered their time acting in these short pieces in the credits of each film. I’m so grateful to Cassy Scrima, the Marcus Hotels Area Director of Marketing and the best boss in the world, for helping me with coordination of spaces and places to shoot. And if I don’t thank all the Pfister Associates who gave me a smile and lent a hand in the heat of the moment, I’d be nothing but the world’s biggest jerk. Thanks team…you are the greatest people I know.

So, enough of the platitudes, on with the show.

Today, I give you THE OTHER SIDE OF DOWN. I got the idea for THE OTHER SIDE OF DOWN on one of my first days as Pfister Narrator all the way back last May. It was a quiet weekday and I was hanging around near the concierge desk listening to guests chatter away, trying to get a sense of any stories that I might capture. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a woman who had entered the building from the Mason Street entrance. It was hard not to spot her because she was clutching about four-dozen helium balloons in her hand. She sauntered down the hallway leading to the lobby and stopped at the bank of elevators directly across from the Artist-In-Residence Studio. An elevator arrived, the woman stepped inside with her balloons, and I watched as I assumed she ascended to a party or event on an upper floor. I immediately made my way over to the elevators and caught another car, hoping to follow her and find her so I could learn more about why she had all the balloons. I never did find the lady or her balloons, but she left me with a tremendous gift instead–the idea for my first Pfister Film.

Here’s the first of four short films that I’ll be sharing with you all this week. I hope you enjoy THE OTHER SIDE OF DOWN.

Follow me on Twitter @jonathantwest for more smart remarks and snappy retorts.